some things don’t add up

With the world awash with opinions, the facts speak for themselves. Don’t they?

Anyone who follows Nicaragua will know that, despite steady progress for women under the Sandinista government, it can still be a very macho society (but then again, which societies aren’t, despite the gloss of breaking glass ceilings?). In Nicaragua there are still huge problems to overcome. Therapeutic abortion still remains illegal. Violence against women is rife, and the recent excellent law dealing with it was weakened with an amendment making mediation compulsory (see here for a past post on the subject). Teenage pregnancies are amongst the highest in the region.

Against this has to be set improvements made under the current government. Political representation for women has increased, health has improved, social programmes have targeted women, and despite the violence highlighted above, Nicaragua is still far safer for women (and for men) than their near neighbours.

With these two tendencies in mind, a recent piece in the Guardian (see here) had another go at Nicaragua. According to the UNDP’s 2014 Gender Inequality Index, Nicaragua ranks 132 out of 187 countries. Fair enough you might think. But there’s no mention that this might be contested territory. In the autumn Nicaragua ranked 6th in the world for gender equality according to the World Economic Forum (see here). So what is going on? Are they using vastly different criteria? Or did one of these international organisations fail their statistics course?

The WEF uses the following to rank the countries:

  • economic participation and opportunity including salaries, participation and leadership
  • education including access to basic and higher levels of education
  • political empowerment including representation in decision-making structures
  • health and survival including life expectancy and ratio of women to men

The United Nations Development Programme uses these criteria:

  • maternal mortality
  • adolescent birthrate
  • shares of seats in parliament
  • secondary education rate
  • participation in employment rate

These do not seem wildly different, so something does not add up. At least that bastion of women’s empowerment, Saudi Arabia, will be glad to hear that they rank 34th in the world according to the UNDP.

On a more positive note, the article describes the work of SOPPEXCCA, the co-op from which the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign sources its coffee, tecafé. We will travel to Nicaragua next month, to interview the producers, to help to promote the coffee to a wider audience.

Nicaragua is not some sort of feminist paradise. 6th in the world for gender equality is probably too high. But it reached this figure because of the changes made to governmental policies since 2007. Women’s struggles in Nicaragua need to be supported. As do the strides made towards equality in recent years.

 

 

 

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gweledigaeth loyw

gleaming vision

Mae’r Ymgyrch wedi bod yn gweithio ar fasnach deg am o leiaf 20 mlynedd. I ddweud y gwir, roedd y mudiad masnach deg yn dechrau go iawn yn yr wythdegau, trwy werthu coffi o Nicaragua. Yn y wlad, a llawer eraill, mae’r cysylltiad rhwng masnach deg a’r mudiad cydweithredol wedi bod yn gryf iawn. Gwelsom y cysylltiad unwaith eto yn 2013, pan gawsom gyfarfod i drafod yr economi gyd-weithredol yn Nicaragua (gweler fan hyn).

Mae’r cysylltiad rhwng tegwch a chydweithredu wedi bod yn amlwg ers sefydlwyd y mudiad cydweithredol 170 mlynedd yn ôl. Hefyd, mae’r berthynas rhwng y prynwyr a gweithwyr wedi bod yn ganolog i rannu buddion economi teg.

William-Hazell-portrait-300x199

Mewn llyfr newydd, William Hazell’s Gleaming Vision, mae Alun Burge yn edrych ar un o gwmniau cydweithredol yn Ne Cymru, Ynysybwl, a chyfraniad Hazell at y mudiad. Gweithiodd Alun am 5 mlynedd yn Nicaragua yn ystod yr wythdegau, ac mae’n disgrifio yr un agwedd o ‘drawsffurfio’ yn Ne Cymru yn ystod hanner cyntaf yr Ugeinfed Canrif a gwelodd yn Nicaragua. Ysgrifenodd:

“As the Ynysybwl Society owned shares in the co-operative businesses about which questions were being asked, there was a direct link between the consumers of Ynysybwl and the producers of North America, Asia and the Soviet Union. It was unavoidable to feel part of an international movement, as well as realising they were subject to the vagaries of international markets. These complimentary local, national and international activities were seen by Hazell as essential to the uilding of the Co-operative Commonwealth.”

Mae hyn yn adleisio geiriau Porfirio Zepeda, yn ystod ei hymweliad i Gymru yn 2001 i hyrwyddo coffi masnach deg o Nicaragua. Meddai:

“Gallwn newid y berthynas rhwng prynwyr a chynhyrchwyr, a’r berthynas rhwng prisiau, fel ei bod yn berthynas sydd yn caniatau i ni fyw.”

Mae’r Ymgyrch yn gobeithio lansio cyn bo hir eu dirprwyaeth nesaf i Nicaragua, i astudio yr economi cydweithredol yna.


a gleaming vision

gleaming vision

The Campaign has been working on fair trade for at least 20 years. To tell the truth, the fair trade movement could have said to have started in the Eighties, through selling coffee from Nicaragua. In the country, like many others, the connection between the fair trade and co-operative movement has been very strong. We saw the connections once again in 2013, when we met to discuss the co-operative economy in Nicaragua (see here).

The connections between fairness and co-operation have been obvious since the co-operative movement was established 170 years ago. Also, the relationship between consumers and workers has been at the heart of sharing the benefits of a fair economy.

 

William-Hazell-portrait-300x199

In a new book, William Hazell’s Gleaming Vision,  Alun Burge looks at the contribution of Hazell to the movement. Alun worked in Nicaragua for five years during the Eighties, and he describes the same attitude of ‘transformation’ in South Wales during the first half of the 20th century as he saw in Nicaragua. He writes:

“As the Ynysybwl Society owned shares in the co-operative businesses about which questions were being asked, there was a direct link between the consumers of Ynysybwl and the producers of North America, Asia and the Soviet Union. It was unavoidable to feel part of an international movement, as well as realising they were subject to the vagaries of international markets. These complimentary local, national and international activities were seen by Hazell as essential to the uilding of the Co-operative Commonwealth.”

This echoes the words of the late Porfirio Zepeda, during his visit to Wales in 2001 to promote fair trade coffee from Nicaragua. He said:

“We can change the relationship between consumers and producers, and the relationship between prices, so that it a relation that allows us to live.”

The Campaign hopes to launch our next delegation to Nicaragua before long, to study the co-operative economy there.